The Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) has released new research into the power and impact of video games in Australia. The report shows a fairly contrary result to the common perception, perpetuated by the media, that video games are evil and bad for us.
It turns out that more than two-thirds of Australians play video games and 91% of households own a video game device.
Digital Australia 2020 is the latest study of 1,210 Australian households and 3,228 individuals. The research was conducted by Bond University and highlights the consistency with which Australians enjoy video games.
While video games are often thought of as an activity for teenagers, as the generations have grown up, it seems we never stop playing. The average age of a video game player in Australia is 34 years old. As a 37-year-old who spent of much of my life playing video games, I have had an incredibly enjoyable experience and the problem-solving mindset that results from the best games is something that helps me in my career.
Almost half of the people playing videos are now female which is awesome, gender should never be barrier to the enjoyment and education that come as a result of games. With such a diverse range of titles, genres and platforms to game on, there really is something for everyone.
Older Australians also continue to flock to games, with 42% of those aged 65 and over identifying as gamers. In fact, less than a quarter of video game players are under the age of 18 (we assume they’re too busy with SnapChat and TikTok).
The study also sheds light on the perception of the power of video games to help people maintain social connections (67%) and contribute to their social (66%) and emotional (74%) wellbeing.
Dr Jeff Brand, Professor at Bond University and lead author of the report, notes the reasons Australians play games continues to diversify and multiply.
“This biennial study has been conducted since 2005, and gives us a powerful insight into who plays video games, how they play, and why they play. While the first studies really broke down stereotypes of who played games, this research really helps us to understand why people play.
Australians still play video games for fun, but this isn’t the only reason. Games are increasingly appreciated for their diverse applications – people play to educate and upskill themselves, to stay socially and emotionally connected, as a motivator to stay fit, and to reduce stress.”Dr Jeff Brand, Professor at Bond University
The Digital Australia study also highlights the important contribution that games make to Australia’s cultural footprint and the digital economy. The interactive nature of video games means that a user is cognitively engaged through problem solving and creativity – they are not sitting passively on auto-pilot.
“Games are a powerful tool we need to harness for a strong and competitive future. Interactive game play requires a critical approach to problem solving.
We can’t disregard that these same skills can be used by players in a professional environment. The cross pollination that is seeping into the Australian workplace from a skilled generation of gamers is promising.”Dr Jeff Brand, Professor at Bond University
In fact, 61% of parents see video games as an effective teaching tool for STEM. The research also found that three-quarters of adults believe that it can benefit the economy to develop and produce video games in Australia. When it comes to training up a workforce, video games are an important tool – 29% have utilised video games to train workers with new skills.
“Digital Australia 2020 emphasises the integral role games play in Australian’s lives. Far from being a solitary endeavour, games are designed to be a shared experience and our research supports the fact that most people play games with other people. Video games have influenced all aspects of society. We are finding games are leaving a footprint in the home, workplace, and school. The reasons we are playing them are more nuanced – we are playing not just to entertain ourselves, but to learn and to connect.”Ron Curry, CEO of IGEA
Other key findings of the Digital Australia Report 2020 include:
Video games play an important role in the family
Parents increasingly place importance on the impact video games have on forging a connection with their children. The research shows that 59% of parents play games with their children in the same room, and 43% play online games with their children.
Parents are still cautious when it comes to ensuring safety online
83% indicate they have talked with their children about playing games safely online. 89% of parents also said that they were aware of parental controls, up from 81% in 2018.
Video games for health
Older Australians cite the role video games play in positive ageing. A majority (87%) use games as a tool for mental stimulation, and 81% see it as a buffer against dementia.
Video games continue to educate
Games continue to play an important role in an educational and training setting. Half the parents surveyed indicated that their children use video games for educational purposes in school and 53% believe that games can imbue their children with greater confidence at school.
Video games and the household
The most popular way to play games is with a mobile phone (70%), while 65% of households use a console to play, and 21% of households own a virtual reality headset.
The average Australian’s consumption of games has decreased
The average total daily video game consumption is 81 minutes, down from 89 minutes in 2018.
For more information and to read the full report, head to IGEA.